What did the Edwardians know about Spain, and what was that knowledge worth? The Edwardians and the Making of a Modern Spanish Obsession draws on a vast store of largely unstudied primary source material to investigate Spain’s place in the turn-of-the-century British popular imagination. Set against a background of unprecedented emotional, economic and industrial investment in Spain, the book traces the extraordinary transformation that took place in British knowledge about the country and its diverse regions, languages and cultures between the tercentenary of the Spanish Armada in 1888 and the outbreak of World War I twenty-six years later.
This empirically-grounded cultural and material history reveals how, for almost three decades, Anglo-Spanish connections, their history and culture were more visible, more colourfully represented, and more enthusiastically discussed in Britain’s newspapers, concert halls, council meetings and schoolrooms, than ever before. It shows how the expansion of education, travel, and publishing created unprecedented opportunities for ordinary British people not only to visit the country, but to see the work of Spanish and Spanish-inspired artists and performers in British galleries, theatres and exhibitions. It explores the work of novelists, travel writers, journalists, scholars, artists and performers to argue that the Edwardian knowledge of Spain was more extensive, more complex and more diverse than we have imagined.
'There is a thoroughness and completeness of treatment that is truly amazing. The book is clear and readable, with nice touches of pithy humour. It is fact-rich but with a critical eye, a sharp wit, and a light touch.'
Alison Sinclair, University of Cambridge